US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, who is on a two-day visit to South Korea, has warned of a “massive military response” against North Korea if the country uses any of its nuclear weapons.
“Make no mistake — any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated…Any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response, effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said in South Korea, which is a close ally of the US.
Mattis also laid emphasis on diplomatic efforts to resolve the North Korean missile and nuclear crisis.
Mattis maintained that diplomacy remained a “preferred course of action” to solve the current crisis but stressed, “our diplomats are most effective when backed by credible military force”.
Tensions have been running high on the Korean peninsula, with the North conducting its sixth nuclear test last month. Pyongyang has also test-launched multiple missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.
In the past, leaders of both US and North Korea have threatened to launch military strikes against each other. The North’s ruler Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump have also traded verbal threats of war and personal insults that have sparked global alarm.
In Seoul, Mattis also met his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo, who co-chaired the annual “Security Consultative Meeting (SCM)” on Saturday.
On Friday after Mattis arrived in South Korea, he visited the heavily fortified border between North and South.
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit the region next month.
(With inputs from agencies)